Dr. Jorge de la Cruz has been a Surgical Outreach Partner and a valued member of the ReSurge family for many years. Serving the people of Peru, he has performed thousands of reconstructive surgeries. His team offers surgeries and many other additional services for patients such as physical therapy. He believes in a multi-disciplinary approach and those in his care benefit greatly from this approach. Learn more through this recent interview:
Tell me a little about yourself and your background.
I was born in Lima, Peru, but I work in the north near Ecuador. My wife and I have four adult sons. My wife works at the school of music. I am a professor and have been teaching since 1980. I am currently getting my general doctorate in medicine from the University of San Marcos in Lima, and I’m in my first of four years. It’s very difficult!
What made you want to go into medicine?
I wanted to understand the nature of sickness. I was also interested in family medicine. When I was younger, I had appendicitis and was operated on in Lima, since most surgeries only occur in the capital city. This experience, along with the wonderful surgeons I encountered during this episode, influenced me to become a surgeon. I wanted to also operate on congenital cases and tumors.
Why did you decide to pursue training in reconstructive surgery in particular?
The challenge and complexity of plastic and reconstructive surgical cases drew me to plastic surgery.
How did you become involved with ReSurge?
Several doctors visited my country and operated with me. Dr. Angelo Coposi from San Francisco visited and that’s how I heard of ReSurge, which was Interplast at the time. With Dr. Zebar’s help, I began to work with ReSurge.
What types of reconstructive surgeries do you perform most?
It differs. For instance, today I operated on a young child with a heel injury. Many cases are leg and foot trauma. But we also see a large number of congenital cleft lips and palates. I treat children and adults.
What case or patient stands out to you the most and why?
Before COVID, many people would travel long distances to be attended and treated here. People have walked a long distance and have possibly had to cross the river. It’s important to consider this and give attention to these patients.
What challenges do you face in your practice?
Anesthesiology, surgeons, and all hospital personnel try to avoid COVID themselves to continue working. Patients wait to receive surgeries until after testing negative, so this prevents and delays surgeries, increasing the backlog of cases.
What are your goals for the future of reconstructive surgery in your country?
I trust my students to carry on what we know about anatomy and surgery, and the goals of physiology. One of my sons is a plastic surgeon like me, and he will be part of the future generations of Peruvian surgeons providing access to patients in need.